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Co-Presidents –

Rebecca Van Hoeck

Becca Van Hoeck is a PhD Candidate in the Biology Department. She studies the sounds marine animals make to ask a variety of questions about marine ecosystems and the vulnerability of fish populations to ocean noise pollution. Broadly, she is interested in the applications of her research to ocean noise policy and offshore wind energy development. As SPAG Co-President, Becca is excited to expand science policy engagement in North Carolina and help others gain the tools to be effective advocates.


David Gorelick

PhD Candidate, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Gillings School of Global Public Health.

David is a research assistant at UNC’s Center on Financial Risk in Environmental Systems, studying the physical and financial risks for water utilities in the United States. He was previously SPAG’s Legislative Affairs Chair, and a member of the American Geophysical Union’s 2019 Voices for Science cohort.
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Deep Upadhyay

B.S. Candidate, Department of Biology, UNC College of Arts and Sciences.

Deep is a fourth-year undergraduate and research assistant at the UNC Department of Biology. His current research involves the application of Python-based machine learning algorithms cellular microscopy image analysis. With SPAG, he hopes to help make science more accessible to the general public.


Yael-Natalie Escobar

PhD Candidate, UNC Department of Toxicology

Yael-Natalie H. Escobar is a PhD candidate in the Curriculum in Toxicology and Environmental Medicine (CiTEM). She studies the effects of electronic cigarette generated aerosols on lung cells. Her interest in science policy began because she wanted her research to inform tobacco regulations to help protect public health. Ms. Escobar has participated in SPAG events for 4 years and served as member of the executive board for 3 years in various roles: Chair of Professional Development, Vice President of External Affairs, and President. During her last semester in graduate school she is serving as the secretary of SPAG.